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2022-23 | Calcio | Milan | Serie A | Champions League | Coppa Italia

AC MILAN GAME BY GAME REVIEW

Twenty twenty two – New season, new personnel and new opportunity to compete on all fronts. I aim to provide pre-game expectations and post-game evaluations. Thoughts. Observations. Analysis. The believable and the unbelievable. Post-game mental health can be severely hot and cold therefore sleeping on a result may provide further clarity down the road. Live long and Milan!

Milan v Udinese - 13 Aug, 17:30 - 4-2

Pregame Expectation

Opening day fixtures are a total lottery which can defy logic, team form and team pedigree. Hopefully Milan’s preseason form will translate to 3 points. Udinese are not be underestimated with dangerous individuals on-hand whom can cause great havoc up-top with speed and power. Gerard Deulofeu will be fired up to compete against his old team and I’m truly intrigued by Destiny Udogie.

Thankfully the expected sell-out crowd will gee up the team and will them on to win. Milan have to defend collectively and cohesively to nullify Udinese’s fast counter attacks and find ways to disrupt or unlock the oppositions deployment of a teamwide deep defensive line. Charles De Ketelaere, Yacine Adli and Tommaso Pobega are inline to make senior team and Serie A debuts at some stage. Forza Milan!

Postgame Evaluation

Rollercoaster ride, the performance and emotions may well be indictive of the season ahead. Not the best start, bad defending on both goals but on the whole a great comeback victory. Marking and alertness was the issue on the first goal and allowing the cross for the second goal was lackadaisical. Hopefully we’re just looking at opening game jitters, missteps and not long-term issues.

Brahim Diaz and Ante Rebic were amazing, both really needed to get the monkey off the back and rightfully will get the plaudits but for me Ismaël Bennacer was the star of the show. Charles De Ketelaere was impressive during his brief stint, will add plenty of flair and technical quality to Milan. Surprisingly Milan did not miss Sandro Tonali, which was and is unthinkable but a great sign of next man up mentality – thank you Ismaël Bennacer and Rade Krunić.

atalanta v milan - 21 Aug, 19:45 - 1-1

Pregame Expectation

Away to Atalanta is no easy task. La Dea play a free flowing brand of football and particularly dangerous going forward. The Rossoneri will have to improve open play defending and alertness on set-pieces. Midweek film study, tactical preparation and physical training should address team defensive mishaps and further build upon team chemistry in the attacking phase.

Sandro Tonali will be back to replace the injured Rade Krunić and reform his flourishing partnership in the middle with Ismaël Bennacer. Charles De Ketelaere could start and Yacine Adli may impact the game from the bench.

Postgame Evaluation

An untypical La Dea whom sat back and soaked up the pressure to hit on the break. Almost worked for Atalanta thanks to poor finishing and final pass play from Milan. Call it what you will, a bad day, early season rust or match day jitters because Milan were severely lacking in the final ball and finishing department until Ismaël Bennacer saved the day. Thankfully effort and desire was not the issue.

Charles De Ketelaere again showed some technique and flair. Nothing quite worked for Rebic, Messias and Leão or Milan, frankly I could list the whole team. The loose passing was not a sight to behold and Ruslan Malinovskyi was unmarked with his subtle movement to score the fortuitous goal. Hopefully the lack of cutting edge is a one-off. Leo escaped serious injury on the end of a wild tackle from Hans Hateboer which somehow escaped the red card and VAR in keeping with the three points escaping Milan.

Milan v bologna - 27 Aug, 19:45 - 2-0

Pregame Expectation

An expected sell-out crowd at San Siro will be willing Milan on to improve upon the Atalanta performance. Lack of execution was the determining factor against La Dea. Olivier Giroud is expected to replace Rebic up top to provide a greater repertoire for the position and Charles De Ketelaere is expected to boost creativity, flair and execution in the final third.

Bologna are setup well with a team first ethos which can cause problems going forward with the trailblazing Marko Arnautović while being teamwide resolute in the defensive phase. Bologna also has a knack of stepping up and performing well against superior opposition.

Postgame Evaluation

Incredible atmosphere at San Siro whom witnessed Milan atone for the self infliction at La Dea with a significant teamwide improvement in defending, attacking and pressing. Charles De Ketelaere’s star is born and the premature Kaka comparisons are not beyond wishful thinking. Rafael Leão’s ascension is stratospherically in Rafael’s hands and Leão could or should of celebrated a hattrick of goals and assists. The final score does not justify the complete man for man dominance Milan displayed for 90+ minutes.

Yacine Adli came on to make his debut and together with Tommaso Pobega and Alexis Saelemaekers displayed moments of resilience and energy. I witness too many incidents of last ditch recovery by the back-four specifically when Milan are on a crest of momentum and controlling the game. The defensive line is a tad high which is why the opposition try to counter with clearances and early crosses. Having the ability to recover is a great skill to be had but any given Sunday or better opposition can and will punish Milan’s defensive line strategy.

sassuolo v milan - 30 Aug, 17:30 - 0-0

Pregame Expectation

Milan will be confident thanks to the most recent performance and victory over Bologna. Squad rotation is expected against a very dangerous opponent and recent history has not been kind. The fact is Sassuolo love playing against Milan. This could be a fascinating affair and Milan have to be careful not to upset team balance by rotating personnel too aggressively.

Postgame Evaluation

Milan were slow, timid and lucky to pickup a point thanks to a Mike Maignan penalty save. Sassuolo surprisingly from the get-go were setup to stifle Milan whom will have to quickly adapt and adjust to opposing teams adopting compact formations whilst sitting back home and away. Finding a way to counter the oppositions deep line positioning is no easy task with no fool proof methodology.

The current trend of good, bad and ugly performances cannot become the norm, Milan have to find consistency. Thankfully we are not looking for effort or desire just consistency and execution. The current Milan are not in top form but they are resolute at grinding out games especially when playing poorly. The upcoming run of local and continental fixtures will provide an early season test for Milan’s aspirations for the season ahead.

MILAN v Internazionale - Derby della Madonnina - 03 sept, 17:30 - 3-2

Pregame Expectation

The Derby della Madonnina is upon us with both Milanese teams stuttering out of the gate and with impending Champion League matchups in fixed view. The Initial round of Serie A fixtures are conjuring up a lottery of results and performances. The Milanese derby could go either way, the home crowd will play an understated part. Milan will need to be resolute and may have to grind out a result at the expense of a statement performance.

Postgame Evaluation

Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud are Internazionale’s equivalent of the devastating demon core, the fear of criticality prompted Inter to sit deep, defend by numbers and eat up space. Inter’s patch job tactics miserably failed the criticality test much like the infamous screwdriver and bricks. Rafael stratospheric Leão and Mike Maignan will be the stars on the highlight reel but Sandro Tonali and Ismaël Bennacer were the dragons of transition from defence to attack. Inter opened the scoring by punishing Milan’s combination of high defensive line and poor tracking by the midfield but conceding the goal was the tickle me not moment for Milan, Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud to awaken from slumber.

Rafael Leão again could have obtained a hattrick of goals and assists. Divock Origi should have taken the heat off Milan in the closing stages and assisted Leão on numerous occasions. Inter’s scandalously comical moments of method acting on the field must of been a tactical game-plan. Disciplinary action was mostly reserved for Milan because the yellow cards were attracted to the red and black. Hopefully the Rossoneri will carry this momentum onto the Champions League stage.

FC Salzburg v Milan - 06 sept, 20:00 - 1-1

Pregame Expectation

The opening round of Champions League fixtures can be a somewhat kamikaze affair, especially if you’re playing away from home. Milanista are riding high on a crest of optimism and confidence from the thrilling victory in Derby della Madonnina. Milan mustn’t underestimate Salzburg but approach this game with patience and guile on and off the pitch. Forcing the issue on matchday may work in Salzburg’s favour. Quite a few squad members are inline to make debut continental appearances.

Postgame Evaluation

Bravo, Salzburg are a dangerous team. A point gained more than two points dropped by Milan who were rushed and harassed for the entirety of the contest. Salsburg is a young enterprising team with a non-stop motor. Milan was probably expecting a typical continental contest but to make in-game adjustments on the fly and executing adjustments to achieve a positive result is down to Milans fighting spirit and grit across the squad. Lessons have been learned on and off the pitch because it’s not every day you face an opponent with the zest to press and harass nonstop at high intensity and with highspeed.

Tommaso Pobega did well to shore up the midfield on his maiden champions league appearance. Brahim Diaz and Divok Origi provided moments of promise. For the most part, Rafael Leão, Olivier Giroud and Milan were subdued from start to finish. Stefano Pioli’s substitutions were timely with regards to reenergising all three phases of personnel. Credit has to be reserved for Salsburg before highlighting team and individual performances by the Rossoneri.

sampdoria v MILAN - 11 sept, 19.45 - 1-2

Pregame Expectation

On paper Milan are overwhelming favourites and Sampdoria an opponent who could provide a stern contest beyond designated odds and stats. Zero pressure and zero expectations can be a dangerous motivator. Milan are expected to rotate again with last minute concerns up top with regards to the late injury to Divok Origi. Tommaso Pobega and Simon Kjær are slated to start. Hopefully we witness a positive Rossoneri performance post FC Salzburg hangover.

Postgame Evaluation

Wild game. Offside goal. Disallowed goal. Handball. Non-existent yellow card. Milan had to work incredibly hard for the victory. The result will be one to look back on at the end of the season. Rafael Leão was harshly sent off for the first incident, a moment of method acting by the opposition. The second incident was unfortunate and accidental. VAR should step-in and overturn yellow cards based on individuals playacting, diving and trying to con the officials. The Sampdoria goal appears to be clearly offside. The goal scorer is ahead, the distance is as wide as the parting river Nile. I wonder why the official VAR confirmation screens were not shown on the live telecast?

This was a mammoth team effort across the board. Olivier Giroud was monumental to Milans victory. The hold-up play, constant pressing, chasing down and penalty goal was a sight to behold, a masterful performance. Amazingly Milan only utilised 3 substitutes, personally I’d have bought on Sergiño Dest to run and chase like the wind and tasked Gabbia or Thiaw to best replicate Olivier Giroud. Substitutions can upset a team’s rhythm, cohesion and communication therefore you can understand the decision making. Aster Vranckx made a promising debut replacing the hardworking Tommaso Pobega.      

milan v Dinamo Zagreb - 14 sept, 17:45 - 3-1

Pregame Expectation

The pressure is on Milan to secure the points to kickstart the Champions League campaign. An expected sell-out crowd can and will help Milan secure victory. Dinamo Zagreb may take inspiration from FC Salzburg in order to stifle Milan. Some light squad rotation is expected to provide conditioning for players in need of rest and opportunity for others fighting for more playtime. The unknown factor of Dinamo Zagreb has to be feared and respected at the same time.

Postgame Evaluation

Milan secured a much-needed victory to top the group e table and solidify qualification for the knockout rounds. Another complete team performance from back to front ensured the points against a tricky opponent with the talent to upset defacto favourites. Dinamo Zagreb threatened momentarily with a beautifully crafted equaliser but couldn’t overcome conceding the second goal on the cusp of halftime.

Rafael Leão’s flourishing partnership with Olivier Giroud continued with the opening goal and Alexis Saelemaekers seems to thrive in continental affairs. Tommaso Pobega’s star is ascending and carving out a crucial role for both the Rossoneri and the Azzurri. A timely boost to the squad as Rade Krunic made his first post injury and contract extension appearance.

MILAN v NAPOLI - 18 sept, 19.45 - 1-2

Pregame Expectation

Early season test and adversity for Milan’s seasonal aspirations without the suspended Rafael Leão. The crucial fixture against a Scudetto rival will be a tough task for the former and the latter. Watching and not playing can be a nightmare but Leão could do with recharging the batteries. Rafael-less Milan will be hoping for a next man-up mentality and home crowd heroics on matchday because a new rejuvenated Napoli are in fine form and the talk of Italia.

Postgame Evaluation

Milan’s unbeaten run stemming from last season is no more. Napoli managed the game well and importantly finished the big chances they created. Milan squandered many opportunities and paid dearly with a couple of defensive lapses at the back. Rafael-less Milan may have dropped points at home however the overall performance against a Scudetto rival was pleasing and can be built upon for the season ahead.

On another day a clinical Milan could have won this game with ease. The defence may appear as less solidified compared to last year, but the season is long with ample time on hand to fix teamwide and niggling individual deficiencies at the back. It could be argued Olivier Giroud is playing the best football of his life at 35 years young and the international break will hopefully afford the attacker a well-earned opportunity for recuperation.

EMPOLI v MILAN - 1 OCT, 19.45 - 1-3

Pregame Expectation

On-paper the international break is potentially a recuperation window for players and coaching teams alike. Thankfully Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri are showing plenty of promise and progression. Milan are dealing with a few injuries for the trip to Empoli whom will be salivating at the prospect of preventing Milan’s demon core of Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leão from criticality. Milan have to be mindful of Empoli, post international fixtures are like the opening day, a lottery. Empoli also have the ability and the genes to cause opportune upsets. 

The energy zapping amount of traveling back and forth during the international break is mindboggling, especially for clubs littered with international calibre of individuals. The immediate global impact will be on full display during the fixtures with potential teamwide squad rotation and maximum usage of substitutions. Fodé Ballo-Touré will be starting at left-back, Alexis Saelemaekers will be in play with Ante Rebic to deputise for the injured Junior Messias and Ciprian Tătărușanu for the injured Mike Maignan.  

Postgame Evaluation

Incredibile, the match caught fire deep in injury time. Milan were closing in on the points via a smart Sandro Tonali throw-in and inspirational play from Rafael Leão to assist a tap in for Ante Rebic. Empoli created a few chances but failed to take advantage until a 92+ minute freekick harshly awarded just outside the Milan area. Nedim Bajrami finally hit the target and made Ciprian Tătărușanu pay for poor footwork with a wonderful strike. Suddenly Empoli fans were rejoicing and Milanista contemplating dropped points and injuries.

Thankfully the Rossoneri had other ideas and responded swiftly with two quickfire goals (94+ and 97+) from a Theo Hernandez moment by Fodé Ballo-Touré and Rafael Leão with a word class run and finish ably assisted by Rade Krunić and Ante Rebic. You’d think Milan were insulted by the late Empoli goal and responded in-kind. The injuries list continues to grow with Davide Calabria and Alexis Saelemaekers both forced off in the first half and Simon Kjaer late in the second half. 

CHELSEA v MILAN - 5 OCT, 20:00 - 3-0

Pregame Expectation

The pressure is entirely on Chelsea after a truly dismal start to the Champions League campaign. Milan beset with injuries to key players will be playing to further cement top spot in the group table and upsetting the odds and the locals. Stefano Pioli has to make decisions at the back and provide ammunition up top. Sergiño Dest is expected to deputise at right back with Ciprian Tătărușanu between the sticks and Charles De Ketelaere to replace Alexis Saelemaekers at right wing. A subtle or defined shift in formation could also be on the cards. Thankfully Milan are blessed with ability and versatility to interchange formations and tactical aptitude to make adjustments on the fly.

Chelsea are in sudden death mode for victory ergo I’m expecting the blues will be out of the gates fast and ferocious. Milan will have to be mindful and resolute at the back, in between the lines and must take advantage of potential opportunities at the business end. Success on the day will entirely hinge on team cohesion post personnel rotation and the individual brilliance of Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud. The latter will be pumped to face his old team and with some luck Milan could walk away with a point or three.

Postgame Evaluation

I’m confident the Milan personnel, coaching team and fandom would wholeheartedly agree the performance on the field was inexcusable. Milan dominated for the opening 20 minutes however the trigger-happy yellow cards for both fullbacks, centre back and central midfielder all but killed this fixture as a contest. Third string fullbacks in the starting line-up was a recipe for disaster. Chelsea freely and ruthlessly attacked the flanks all game and the three Chelsea goals were ably assisted by the Rossoneri’s backline. For the remainder of the game Milan chased each other’s shadows. Nothing worked on the day just an all-round horror-show.

Milan fans have to be commended for sticking around and supporting the Rossoneri for the entirety of the match and some. The lack of contest was not the only disappointing affair, the televised match commentary was one-dimensional, colonially biased and unprofessional. Please do your research before you make outlandish statements and spread language defilement. Televisual productions come and go, and time passes but British commentary continues to stick to overtly biased and stereotypical pastimes.

MILAN v JUVENTUS - 8 OCT, 17.00 - 2-0

Pregame Expectation

The watching world will be expecting a reaction against Juventus with undeniably unbearable pressure on Milan after the midweek continental disaster. The Rossoneri will be determined to prove the capitulation was a one-off and changes to the starting line-up are to be expected. The media and fandom fallout has not been kind and a wrongful performance will spark outrage not seen by the current establishment. Theo Hernandez is thankfully available again, Matteo Gabbia is expected to start at centre back with Pierre Kalulu moving to right back and Tommaso Pobega is favoured to start over Rade Krunic to solidify the transitions between defence and attack. Brahim Diaz could be in line to start after a notable midweek substitute appearance.

A completely sold-out San Siro will be geeing on the Rossoneri but It’s difficult to foresee a favourite or a trailblazing back and forth contest. The final result is obviously the key, but the reaction of a wounded Milan is fundamental. A worthy performance will please the fandom and silence the detractors. Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve part two are in the midst of work in progress whom possess individuals that can punish the opposition in a heartbeat.

Postgame Evaluation

Convincing result and bounce back performance from Milan with a deserved clean sheet to hand. Juventus did not offer much according to match stats, journalists and fandom alike even though plausible threat persisted for the entirety and you have to respect the opposition. Juve simply failed to take advantage of opportunities created and or presented. The final score line never paints a complete picture. Milan could or should have caused more damage but preferred to manage the game without too much resistance from Juventus.

Brahim Diaz constructed his best game of the season, displayed confidence throughout and scored a wonderful individual effort. Fikayo Tomori returned to form and much like Brahim Diaz enjoys competing against Juventus. Matteo Gabbia has surely earned the trust of the management for his all-round shift at nullifying the old lady. Milan without doubt lack Mike Maignan’s unique ability to construct and build out from the back however Ciprian Tătărușanu has to be commended for his stand-up role as stand-in between the sticks.

MILAN v CHELSEA - 11 OCT, 20:00 - 0-2

Pregame Expectation

Returning personnel coupled with positional shifts in defence and midfield departments and the recent Juventus victory should instil a further layer of confidence against the visiting Chelsea. Milan surely cannot replicate the performance at Stamford Bridge. Qualification for the knockout stage and nullifying the stereotypical brigade of naysayers across the sea is at play. Thankfully all is not lost if points are dropped on the day, Milan will have further opportunities to qualify for the next round. Individual and collective pride should be the catalyst to perform like Milan, be like Milan. Sempre Milan.

Postgame Evaluation

Milan have experienced a series of bizarre officiating incidents since returning to the continental arena. A copious number of questionable decisions and trigger-happy discipline on and off the field has dogged recent campaigns. Thankfully qualification is still very much in Milans hands however Milan has to step up and make the football do the talking. If Mason Mount had scored the watching world would not be talking about the red card and penalty award. Mason was basically rewarded for missing the guilt edge opportunity. Mason was not impeded, and the penalty box is not a non-contact area.

The curse of the red card is three-fold, the direct dismissal, penalty and the inevitable substitution to rebalance the line-up. Brahim Diaz was hauled off almost immediately after creating a guilt edge chance for Olivier Giroud to equalise and generally running at Chelsea and being a nuisance. Brahim Diaz was Milan’s best player before Fikayo Tomorire’s dismissal and by conclusion of the contest.

Hellas Verona v Milan - 16 OCT, 19.45 - 1-2

Pregame Expectation

Adversity can dismantle you or fuel you. Milan really needs to get over the continental hump to continue defending the Serie A crown. A large traveling crowd will be on hand to urge the Rossoneri to react where it matters most, on the pitch. Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leão will need to reignite Milan who are in danger of undoing the good start to the season.

The usual channels of information with regards to squad information and starting line-ups have been eerily quiet. An unchanged side from midweek was expected however a lastminute change or two might be on the cards. Yacine Adli is rumoured to be on the fringes of the starting line-up. Hellas Verona will be buoyed by the appointment of a new coach at the helm. The Rossoneri will have to be wary of the potential new coach, new energy trap-game.

Postgame Evaluation

An unwritten rule for the most part, a change of coach undeniably brings new zest and energy and Milan almost paid dearly with a tepid performance severely lacking in end product. The Rossoneri huffed and puffed for the entirety and just got over the finishing line thanks to late overzealous momentum from Verona leading to a smart counter involving Leão and Rebic aptly finished off by Sandro Tonali. Yacine Adli did indeed start for his full debut and much like Milan on the day had moments good, bad and ugly. 

The points were made safe by a wonderful cameo on his debut by Malick Thiaw who made a couple of wonderous last-minute blocks to deny goal scoring heroics from Hellas Verona. Hopefully the impressive substitute appearance paves the way for Malik to carve out additional minutes on the field.

Milan v Monza - 22 OCT, 17.00 - 4-1

Pregame Expectation

If Monza manage to avoid relegation and laydown sustained foundations in Serie A, calcio fans will regularly witness the battle of the AC’s and the Silvio Berlusconi derby. Historical past and present will clash at San Siro with valuable points on the table for survival or title defence. Milan are clear and present favourites on paper although Monza have recently orchestrated an upturn of results and performances which could make this a rather tricky contest for the Rossoneri. The impending World Cup has enforced fixture list congestion and as expected a completely new look frontline coupled with changes in midfield and defence are expected. Milan cannot afford to drop points at this early juncture thanks to the wonderful burgeoning early season form of Napoli and Atlanta however mass rotation is risky business against any opponent let alone an opponent fighting to survive.

Postgame Evaluation

Brahim Diaz ensured victory with a majestic solo opening goal coupled with a predatory strikers turn and finish for the brace. Milan was under grave pressure to construct a worthy performance to ensure the points and appease a restless fandom. The Rossoneri displayed cutting edge ability across the field however a potential first Diaz hattrick was abruptly ended on 53 minutes thanks to unfortunate injury. Next man up will be under scrutiny for the upcoming run of fixtures to replicate Brahim Diaz’s devastating form. On paper Monza should have enough quality and determination to avoid the drop and with a bit of luck the talent and mindset to build upon for the future.  

MILAN v Dinamo Zagreb - 25 OCT, 20.00 - 4-0

Pregame Expectation

Champions League survival is squarely on the agenda with the utmost need for points in order to qualify for the first knockout stage. Anything but three points will doom Milan to third place or below in Group E. Dinamo Zagreb are on the same boat, rowing for potential qualification for the next stage or third place spot for the Europa League. This is a must win and the current hit and miss form will add to the tension on and off the field. Squad rotation is expected across the team. Brahim Diaz is part of the matchday squad but is expected to play no part. Simon Kjaer and Matteo Gabbia are favourites to start at the back with Ante Rebic, Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leão anticipated to spearhead the attack.

Postgame Evaluation

Cometh the performance, cometh the points. Thankfully Milan delivered on both accords with a solid team wide effort. Matteo Gabbia opened the scoring with a well taken header assisted by Sandro Tonali who also won the penalty for Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leão contributed with a goal and assist for Dinamo Zagreb’s own goal. Milan played freely and did not look anxious, burdened or under pressure. This Milan can be a dangerous Milan. The back four may get all the media and fandom attention but for me the midfield duo of Sandro Tonali and Ismaël Bennacer were the protagonists between the lines of press and transitions.

Torino V Milan - 30 OCT, 19.45 - 2-1

Pregame Expectation

The recent uptick in form has increased the feel-good factor within the squad and the fandom. Milan are standout favourites for the away tie against a much improved and trap game worthy Torino side compared to seasons past. Rotation is anticipated with the decisive contest against FC Salzburg on the horizon. The availability of Brahim Diaz is entirely unknown. Matteo Gabbia’s recent form will ensure another start and Origi is expected replace Olivier Giroud. The burden of responsibility will be on the key players to rally the inexperienced and the underutilised to ensure the points for Milan.

Postgame Evaluation

The overreactions are in full swing. No one wants to lose or play poorly but these elements are part and parcel of the beautiful game. Football would be the bore in boring if everyone played the same way or consistently performed at peak levels. Imagine how many draws we’d witness or forced to stomach? Obviously, Milan were poor, slow, timid and extremely cumbersome across the field. A combination of factors including injuries and continued squad rotation played a part.

We can only hope Torino is just a hiccup and not a pattern of trend immediately before must win games are on the horizon. FC Salzburg is a must win at all cost and on the back of Milan’s encompassing prestige and history the fandom overwhelmingly expects every game to be won and must be won however this is not sustainable nor in the realm of reality. Sempre Milan.

MILAN v fc salzburg - 02 Nov, 20.00 - 4-0

Pregame Expectation

Champions League, Europa League or Continental Elimination. Take your pick Milan as all three possibilities are on the table against a very dangerous opponent. A sold-out San Siro’s vocal cords will be on hand to play its part for red and black qualification. The Rossoneri must manage the game with alertness, awareness and readiness for Salzburg’s devastating high press and high-octane style of play. Early ball placement and rotation in conjunction with long ball deployment could be the keys to counter Salzburg’s energy zapping methodology. Rade Krunić is favoured to start as treqerista over Brahim Díaz and Charles De Ketelaere. Ante Rebic, Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leão are expected to spearhead the attack. Simon Kjaer will be drafted in at centre back to solidify the defensive group.

Postgame Evaluation

Magnifico, pressure, what pressure? The score-line will simply fail to paint a complete picture. Milan were supremely efficient and accomplished across the field. The Rossoneri refused to allow Salzburg to get going or playing the Salzburg way. The opponents were left to chase the game entirely. Olivier Giroud with a signature performance capped off with two goals and two assists. Ismaël Bennacer was a permanent thorn to Salzburg’s plans with a virtuoso performance with and without possession. Bennacer must have covered every inch of the field like a Lidar Scanner.

milan V spezia - 05 nov, 19.45 - 2-1

Pregame Expectation

Milan on the back of a wonderful midweek performance with continental qualification in the bag face a Spezia side fighting tooth and nail for Serie A survival. Milan has unfinished business with Spezia including most recently dropping points home and away and who can forget the infamous San Siro whistle. The Rossoneri should be ready, roaring and out for redemption especially in light of the recent calamity against Torino. Rotation is anticipated specifically up top with Origi deputising for Giroud, Krunic in for Tonali and Gabbia replacing Kjaer. Hopefully Daniel Maldini will take the field on his return to face his parent club with Poalo watching on in the stands and Cesare observing from the stars.

Postgame Evaluation

It was written in the stars. Live long and Maldini. A wasteful Milan was lucky to snatch a late winner from the imperious Olivier Giroud who applied a trademark finish from a Lionel Messi cross by Sandro Tonali. The Rossoneri took the lead in the first half with a Lionel Messi finish from Theo Hernandez ably assisted by a Lionel Messi assist from Ismaël Bennacer. Spezia replied in the second half with a beautiful finish from Daniel Maldini. Cesare must have been composing and conducting from the stars. Theo Hernandez and Olivier Giroud will be suspended for the away game at Cremonese thanks to yellow card accumulation for the former and two yellow cards on the day for the latter. Milan continues with the yo-yo form however still managing to grind out results. A good sign in football as they say.

cremonese V milan - 08 nov, 19.45 - 0-0

Pregame Expectation

The penultimate game before the FIFA World Cup brings along a further dose of squad rotation. The pressure is on Divock Origi to not only stand in for the suspended Olivier Giroud but to replicate Giroud’s goal scoring form. Thankfully Divock Origi is not afraid to shoot however on occasions the superior option is to pass to teammates in better position. Simon Kjaer is anticipated to slot back in at centre-back and Fodé Ballo-Touré will deputise for the suspended Theo Hernandez. Ante Rebic is set to replace Rafael Leão with Brahim Diaz and Junior Messias set to continue from the start. 

Postgame Evaluation

In light of Milan’s yo-yo form its evidently apparent the squad needs a break to recharge and re-evaluate. Three quickfire opportunities missed in the first half proved costly in the end. The substitutes could have come on earlier and a clear as day penalty was missed with a penalty box foul on Brahim Diaz. Hopefully Malick Thiaw’s solid all-round display on his first start will lead to more minutes and appearances. Milan seriously needs to up the tempo against mid and low tier opposition. The plan is to control the game however we continually witness lethargic, slow and timid performances resulting in too many hard-fought and gung-ho results. The struggle to break down team’s astutely setup to sit back deep and rely on counter play lives on.

milan V fiorentina - 13 nov, 17.00 - 2-1

Pregame Expectation

The final game before the FIFA World Cup. Milan are eleven points off the top of the table and under self-inflicted pressure to claim the last points available before the break. Alot of work is required on and off the field before Serie A resumes to regain the playing standards and momentum required to defend the crown and claim the coveted second star. Napoli are on fire and in the driving seat however the battle for the top four is also heating up. Thankfully the league season is a marathon not a sprint. Malick Thiaw is anticipated to start for the second game in a row. Olivier Giroud is back from suspension to reclaim his position up top and Rafael Leão will be unleashed from the get-go. Fiorentina will likely be setup deep across the formation to rely on the counter and force Milan to play through the lines as opposed to in behind and out wide.

Postgame Evaluation

Thank you Aster Vranckx for easing the burgeoning pressure on Milan with a last-minute injury time assist for the win. The break couldn’t be better timed for Milan, the overall play was slow, timid and uninspiring. The squad really does need a break. A few individuals are playing for a future at Milan and will need to seriously step-up. Aster Vranckx has potential aplenty but needs opportunities on the field to acclimate with Milan and Calcio. Thankfully Zlatan Ibrahimović’s anticipated return will bolster the team and the faltering attacking department.

SALERNITANA V MILAN - 04 JAN, 11.30 - 1-2

Pregame Expectation

The World Cup break was not kind to Milan’s injury situation or poor form which has continued with lacklustre performances in recent friendly matches. Mike Maignan has suffered a setback along with new injuries for Rade Krunić, Junior Messias and Divock Origi. Hopefully Zlatan Ibrahimović impending return will be the catalyst to boost Milan back to form and life. Salernitana will be difficult opponents immediately after the break coupled with Milans patchy form and early kick-off time. Davide Calabria and Alexis Saelemaekers are back, and pressure will be on Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud to provide the spark and the points. Charles De Ketelaere only needs time and patience to grow and acclimate in order to show his immense repertoire akin to the ascensions of Rafael Leão and Sandro Tonali.

Postgame Evaluation

Cometh the hour and cometh the Tonali who responded to the recent doom and gloom with a wonderful all-round display including a superb assist for the opening goal and resounding finish to Brahim Diaz’s layoff to give Milan the lead. Guillermo Ochoa was the sole reason Milan were held to two goals. The newly signed keeper made an astonishing number of saves and on another day, Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leão would have bagged a hattrick apiece. The final result was the utmost importance over individual and team examinations. Davide Calabria managed to break off some rust whilst showcasing his integral value and balance to the red and black. Rafael Leão has untold ability on-tap along with untold potential to make Milanese history and become the symbol of Milan and Calcio for the long-term.

milan V roma - 07 JAN, 19.45 - 2-2

Pregame Expectation

The first fixture at home post World Cup will bring a raucous sold-out crowd to San Siro hoping for a worthy performance and the points. One game too soon for Milan’s new goalkeeper, Devis Vasquez who will be competing for the starter role potentially in the upcoming Coppa Italia tie against Torino. Olivier Giroud will be hoping to make up for missed opportunities in the previous fixture and make the difference against a confident, improving and dogged Roma. An unchanged starting line-up is anticipated with no personnel returning from injury. The Rossoneri have to be vary of Roma who will be counting on newly crowned World Champion, Paulo Dybala to pull the strings. I’m expecting a relatively closeknit affair and patience may well be the key for the Rossoneri to grind out a favourable result. 

Postgame Evaluation

The percentages will indicate the fact you should win a fixture you’ve dominated physically, tactically, statistically and with a 2-goal lead on 87+ minutes but alas nothing is guaranteed, and everything is earned. Two crosses later and you draw, both goals were temporary blips, a lapse in concentration at the pivotal moment. You have to credit Roma for having the belief and the will to fight on. The annoying fact is Milan could and should have scored more goals to kill the game especially armed with the knowledge this Roma are a de-facto poster child for late game heroics. Much has been shared, over analysed and articulated however I’m pleased with the performance just underwhelmed with the final result.

milan V torino - Coppa Italia - 11 JAN, 20.00 - 0-1 ET

Pregame Expectation

Fixture congestion will be the norm going forward now and Milan cannot delve over the 5-minute self-capitulation against Roma. The pressure will be on to quickly forget about the dropped points and focus on Torino who will provide a stern midweek Coppa Italia test. A heavy dose of rotation is anticipated with full usage of substitutions. Individuals with less minutes in the legs will be relied on to step-up and provide a performance and qualification for the next round. Milianese fans are expectant with sixty thousand plus fans expected to attend San Siro to get over and forget the horrid punch in the face finale from the Roma fixture.

Postgame Evaluation

Shocking. Abject. Abysmal. Words simply cannot and will not justify Milan’s performance against a ten-man Torino. The idea is for individuals to step-up in rotation not the opposite. Hopefully this is the kick in the backside and a return to earth moment for the season that lies ahead. Milan have underwhelmed in the Coppa Italia for too long but this performance was beyond anything witnessed in recent memory. No more words are necessary.

lecce V milan - 14 JAN, 17.00 - 2-2

Pregame Expectation

The pressure is increasingly steadfast for the Rossoneri to get back on the victory track against a pesky Lecce armed with a familiar face in Lorenzo Colombo. Sandro Tonali is suspended with Tommaso Pobega or Aster Vranckx slated to step-in. Will the real Milan, please stand up?

Postgame Evaluation

Milan were lucky to be only two goals down at half time. Woeful first half form and lackadaisical set-piece defending is fast becoming an issue. The real Milan did stand-up in the second half to level the score but ultimately failed to press home the momentum to find a winner. Leece were on the ropes for copious passages of play but incredibly the Rossoneri failed entirely to create further opportunities therefore a winner and additional two points deservedly failed to materialise.

MILAN v Internazionale - Derby della Madonnina - Italian Super Cup - 18 JAN, 19.00 - 0-3

Pregame Expectation

Nessun Preferito. Derby della Madonnina may provide nail biting edge of your seat nerves, world class tifosi and la scala del calcio. The derby can also equate to form book, squad pedigree and on occasions the rule book out of the window. A true Any Given Sunday for round ball football. Simon Kjaer is expected to be called up to shore up a shaky and leaky backline. Sandro Tonali will be back from suspension and Junior Messias will be tasked with sparking the attack back to life. Zlatan Ibrahimović will be watching on but has not travelled with the team in order to focus on personal rehabilitation. 

Postgame Evaluation

Bravo Internazionale. Milan were slow, timid and asleep from the get-go. The first half curse is manifesting and prospering. This Rossoneri performance can be confined to rest in peace and deservedly banished from memory or Milan could fuel the fire of redemption. The season is ahead and time is on Milan’s side. Zlatan Ibrahimović will have to work overtime to inspire a squad devoid of confidence and form. Cometh the moment, cometh the Zlatan.

lazio V milan - 24 JAN, 19.45- 4-0

Pregame Expectation

In light of Milan’s current league position in combination with recent scrutiny and poor form. A performance against Lazio is too much to ask because the 3 points are imperative. A semblance of pressure on runaway league leaders Napoli is better than no pressure and Mian have to be aware of the chasing pack. The top four positions are at play owing to the points deduction for Juventus. Sergiño Dest will deputise at left back for the stricken Théo Hernandez and Pierre Kalulu will step in for Simon Kjaer. The usual suspects up top will be under pressure to find a way to secure the points. 

Postgame Evaluation

Bravo Lazio. Milan’s scudetto was built on solid foundations in defence along with tactical maturity in-between the lines of transition and fearless play in the final third. The Scudetto defence is in tatters and the massacre witnessed at Stadio Olimpico was incomprehensible in comparison. Conceding early, frequently and chasing the game has become uncharacteristically the norm. The management may have to look at making personnel changes from top to bottom. The current team is entirely unrecognisable in comparison to Stefano Pioli’s Milan. The top four chase will be a fantastical battle, will Milan be up for a fight until the bitter end? Hopefully the real Milan will stand-up.

milan V Sassuolo - 29 JAN, 11.30, 2-5

Pregame Expectation

The Season is long and we’ve barley crossed the halfway point and with Milan in precarious form, every single point will be crucial for a top four finish. Defending the Scudetto is seemingly unrealistic however the Rossoneri will have to be in position to take advantage in case of a catastrophic slip-up by in-form league leaders, Napoli. Seventy plus thousand fans at San Siro and Milanisti across the globe will be hoping to witness an uptick in form and crucially three points.

The pressure is on Stefano Pioli to adjust the starting line-up in light of abject form and performances. A few individuals restricted to rotational appearances thus far could do with further opportunities to change fortunes and make the difference. Théo Hernandez and Davide Calabria have recovered sufficiently to feature from the start. Simon Kjær is expected to replace the injured Fikayo Tomori and Charles De Ketelaere is hoping to ignite both his season and the stuttering forward line.

Postgame Evaluation

Milan are in the midst of historically bad form, fact. The yo-yo form and lackadaisical play will pass, fact. #PioliOut, are you kidding me! Do we not remember the time before Pioli? #FickleFandom! The pattern of recent times; conceding often and early, chasing the game, lacklustre marking and team defending, an inability to possess possession and nomadic movement in between the transitions. This scoreline depicts total domination however Milan squandered numerous chances unlike the opposition and on another day, this could be a different scoreline. Charles De Ketelaere was having his best moments in recent memory before he was untimely sacrificed at halftime.

INTERNAZIONALE v milan - DERBY DELLA MADONNINA - 05 FEB, 19:45 - 1-0

Pregame Expectation

The form book will dictate Internazionale as monumental favourites and the Nerazzurri tifosi will be looking forward to increasing pain and misery for Milanese counterparts. Derby della Madonnina can rejuvenate a Rossoneri squad suffering from cosmic meltdown. Hopefully the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimović at Milanelo can galvanise and inspire a reaction from the team. Ismael Bennacer will be watching from the stands thanks to a fresh muscle injury with Tommaso Pobega favourite to replace the injured midfielder. Simon Kjaer will continue to deputise for Fikayo Tomori. Milan are long overdue for a standout result therefore Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud will inevitably need to shoot for the stars in order to rip up the form book and kickstart the second half of the season.

Postgame Evaluation

A personnel change or two was inevitable and a tactical shift was rumoured to be in the mix, however the performance on the field was entirely nonsensical. I wonder why Milan gained momentum and started to believe as soon as Rafael Leão entered the fray? Sulking attitude, blah, blah, blah. Body language can be self-reflection, an admission for lacklustre performance by oneself and the team alike. To foster emotion is emotion enough to care. The corner kick sequence perfectly resembles the current Milan. Lautaro Martínez was practically unmarked with a free header which invertedly struck Simon Kjær’s shoulder leaving Milan and Ciprian Tătărușanu totality helpless.

milan v torino - 10 FEB, 19:45 - 1-0

Pregame Expectation

Return of the Zlatan. Milanisti around the globe will be watching on with anticipation for a change in fortune and a packed to the rafters San Siro will be hoping to witness the start of a long overdue revival. Zlatan Ibrahimović is back and available from the bench. Malick Thiaw is favourite to help shore up a leaky defence. Rafael Leão is expected to start along with Brahim Diaz. Olivier Giroud will be striving to personally make amends for Derby della Madonnina. The top four Serie A pressure is on red-alert, every single game is a must win in light of financial and sporting doom and gloom. The road taken is imperative over the road missed with regards to a sustainable and winning Milan.

Postgame Evaluation

An Incumbent Milan with recent flaws and discretions included albeit with three points and a clean sheet. Coach Zlatan contributed from the side-line by passionately encouraging his teammates for 90 plus minutes. Malick Thiaw was impressive and composed on his first start and Olivier Giroud made amends with an apt finish for the red and black. The overall performance was nothing to write home about however the three points should provide respite and confidence to build upon. (More Coming Soon). 

MILAN v Tottenham - 14 feb, 20.00 - 1-0

Pregame Expectation

Milan have not featured in the Champions League knockout stage for painfully too long, yet fandom and media experts alike have the audacity to question progress. In contrast to recent form, I’m hoping the Rossoneri will honour the occasion with a worthy performance to mark the occasion. Fikayo Tomori could make a welcome return to the starting line-up but will face a late fitness test. Théo Hernandez has reportedly picked up a knock in training and may miss the tie entirely. Malick Thiaw is anticipated to be rewarded a further opportunity to impress after recent exploits. Tottenham are also in the midst of an injury crisis therefore Milan may never gain a better opportunity to take advantage. Unfortunately Zlatan will not feature in this season’s continental competition, Milan will need to qualify for next year’s Champions League to entice Zlatan Ibrahimović to prolong his illustrious carrer.

Postgame Evaluation

The Rossoneri missed a golden opportunity to gain almost complete control of the two-match tie. The Rossoneri did not play or look like a side suffering from recent poor form however chances not taken may came back to bite. Charles De Ketelaere and Malick Thiaw, the tales and emotions San Siro could profess. Tottenham were fortunate to leave Milan with a singlular goal deficit born from incredulous luck or poor finishing? Malick Thiaw and the back four impressed on the ground and in the air. Sandro Tonali and Rade Krunić manned the transitions adequately to nullify the opposition.

monza v milan - 18 FEB, 17:00 - 0-1

Pregame Expectation

The battle of the Associazione Calcio, Lombardy and the return fixture of the Silvio Berlusconi derby. Adriano Galliani, Raffaele Palladino and company are working cohesively for Monza to succeed with laying foundations in Serie A. Currently Monza are performing very well and look odds-on to secure safety and maybe with some luck, continental qualification. In light of the recent flux of fixtures Milan are expected to rotate the starting eleven to provide individuals in need of minutes and recuperation. Charles De Ketelaere and Malick Thiaw will be looking to make up for the gilt-edge opportunities against Tottenham.

Postgame Evaluation

A great deal can be deliberated and deciphered but three consecutive clean sheets and three wins at any point of the season cannot be undermined for a Scudetto winning team suffering historically bad form in the month of January. Monza were out of the gates on fire and threated to blow Milan away early but failed to convert the final ball or executing clinically in front of the goal. Milan huffed and puffed for the entirety and fortunately Junior Messias managed to obtain the solitary goal to claim the much-needed points. Malick Thiaw was impressive again and the long-term partnership with Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu could be the defensive foundation to build upon for the immediate and the future.

milan v atalanta - 26 FEB, 19:45 - 2-0

Pregame Expectation

La Dea, a direct challenger for the top four with customary style of free-flowing football will provide a problematic task for a Milan slowly and surely returning to form and serenity. A smiling, happy Rafael Leão can be truly devastating, a phenomenon. The Rossoneri will need Rafael Leão to start playing with a smile again. The long-awaited return to the field of Mike Maignan, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Alessandro Florenzi is not only anticipated but welcomed across the red and black fandom and media alike. Junior Messias will keep his spot in the line-up and Olivier Giroud is expected to spearhead the attack before Zlatan enters the fray. 

Postgame Evaluation

An unconventional La Dea sat back and fruitlessly tried to absorb the Milanese gameplan. The Rossoneri could and should have scored 4 or 5 goals on gilt-edge opportunities alone. On another day the lack of cutting edge in front of the goal could have come back to haunt Milan. The post denied Théo Hernandez another worldy to add to his collection. The thunderous strike hit the post and the back of the goalkeeper for the opening goal. Junior Messias timely finish late on calmed the nerves on the field and around the stadium. Malick Thiaw impressed once again and martialled the electric Rasmus Højlund from start to finish.

fiorentina v milan - 04 march, 19:45 - 2-1

Pregame Expectation

Davide Astori day. Five years on from tragic passing. Risposa in pace, Davide. A Rafaeless Milan will face a timely test away to a Fiorentina side fighting for survival. Rade Krunić and Rafael Leão suspensions will afford Charles De Ketelaere an opportunity to show his worth. Ismaël Bennacer will step-in to replace Krunic. Brahim Díaz has picked up a late muscle injury and will be out for the foreseeable future. Fiorentina are masterfully underachieving and mustn’t be underestimated. La Viola possesses individuals with the ability to punish the opposition and punch way above the current league standing.

Postgame Evaluation

A Rafaeless Rossoneri was not good enough on the day to compete against a La Viola possessed in homage to the late Davide Astori. The lack of vertical threat from a would-be long pass or clearance directly benefitted Fiorentina’s gameplan to harass and hurry Milan’s backline. The Milanese defence were under constant pressure and struggled to rotate and move the ball forward. Unfortunately, the Rossoneri failed to take advantage once La Viola’s ultra-aggressive  press started to tire. The momentum shifted early in the second half but inexcusably the red and black failed to create clear cut opportunities which Rafael Leão provides aplenty. The very presence of Leão, walking pace or in motion keeps the opposition in check. Rafael Leão forces the opposition to gameplan.

Tottenham v milan - 08 march, 20.00 - 0-0

Pregame Expectation

Milan will need to manage the game perfectly across the board from defence to attack in order to overcome a formidable Spurs at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The singular first leg lead will certainly help however the opportune opportunities at San Siro could come back to haunt Milan. Mike Maignan will be back to marshal the defence and the odd freekick or two in the opposition’s half. Brahim Díaz will be available and is favoured to start after a timely recovery. If only Milan had the Ibrahimović card on hand, sadly injury and circumstances have put paid to a potential Zlatan spectacle at Spurs. Milanese chances of success or failure will be heavily fated on Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud.

Postgame Evaluation

A monumental teamwide effort ensured qualification for the Champions League quarterfinal for the first time in 12 years. The off-the-ball work from thankless pressing up-top, marshalling in-between transitions and the defensive unit performed masterfully. Pierre Kalulu, Malick Thiaw, Fikayo Tomori and Theo Hernandez have to be singled out for phenomenally reducing the opposition to literal scraps and a lastminute set-piece opportunity deep in injury time. The sold-out home crowd was silenced for prolonged periods by the oppositions play on the field along with the loud and proud four thousand plus Milanese fans.

milan v Salernitana - 13 march, 19:45 - 1-1

Pregame Expectation

Midweek continental heroics on-paper should ensure potential squad rotation, which could play into Salernitana hands. The opposition will not be deterred from the quest of Serie A survival. The top four chasing pack have all dropped points adding additional pressure for Milan to safeguard three points therefore the news filtering out of Milanello Sports Centre is rotational be dammed. Alexis Saelemaekers is the running favourite to deputise for the injured Junior Messias. The frank reality is Milan have to take advantage of the opportunity on-hand. The onus is on Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud to up the ante.

Postgame Evaluation

Recent form and uptick in confidence were not enough to fuel Milan’s surge for the top four. A golden opportunity to claim second position in Serie A and create breathing space from the chasing pack. Alot has been shared and published with plentiful finger pointing. I prefer to not continue to follow the norm and add further fuel to the fire. Simple fact, the Rossoneri were not good enough on the day and this can happen directly after monumental midweek heroics.

The game tape will show a slow, timid and tiresome effort across the board. Mr Pioli could or should have further rotated the starting line-up and made better selection or use of substitutes and much earlier into the fray. Game management can make the difference and you have to ask why Milan left it so late to chase the game? The increased intensity in the last ten minutes caused havoc and fear in the opposition’s half.

udinese v milan - 13 march, 19:45 - 3-1

Pregame Expectation

Zlatan Ibrahimović is expected to make his first start of the season and additional rotation is anticipated across the team. Going forward every single game, home or away is a must win to ensure continental qualification and fuel to entice Zlatan to continue his association on the field. Ibrahimović’s presence, pedigree and experience cannot be underestimated for a young and hungry Milan. Udinese, a fierce competitor in recent times possess power and pace in abundance and will be no pushovers. The Stadio Friuli faithful are in touching distance of competing for continental competition. Six points are at play and both teams have plenty to play for. 

Postgame Evaluation

Painfully abject and truly embarrassing. The art of courageous and tenacious defending, once a standout signature strength of Stefano Pioli’s Milan has recently and increasingly manifested as a full-blown nightmare. A post world cup Rossoneri is guaranteed to provide schoolyard decision making mixed with calamitous moments of assistance and outright gifts for the opposition. Sandro Tonali has the ability to play further up-field to maximise his ability to dictate play. The nonsensical football has to stop and must stop now because missing out on continental qualification will have dire consequences across the coaching team, player personnel and technical staff.

Napoli v milan - 02 april, 19:45 - 0-4

Pregame Expectation

On paper, away to Napoli on current form is a frightful undertaking. On the pitch however I believe we’ll witness a repeat of the competitive affair at San Siro earlier in the season. I’m hoping the Rossoneri will be evidently ready and geed up for an action-packed contest to make up for the dropped points at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. Three points will certainly kickstart the charge for an increasingly competitive chase for league positions: two, three and four. Victor Osimhen is out with an abductor injury along with Zlatan, who will not be traveling to the spiritual home of Diego thanks to an ill-timed injury picked up on international duty.

Postgame Evaluation

A must win scenario manufactured an irresistible team wide performance akin to the Scudetto diciannove winning formula. The Rossoneri were magnificent with and without possession from start to finish. This type of performance can relight the fire and the belief just intime for the domestic and continental duals with Napoli and the witching hour for Serie A top four.

milan v empoli - 07 april, 20:00 - 0-0

Pregame Expectation

The impending fixture list will enforce a risky round of rotation against a plucky Empoli who can hold their own with the big teams. The three points are imperative, next man up really has to stand up and make it count on the field. Rafael Leão. Brahim Diaz and Olivier Giroud are highly likely to be rested affording the likes of Ante Rebić, Charles De Ketelaere and Divock Origi an opportunity to impress. Additional changes are also expected in the middle of the field and at the back.

Postgame Evaluation

Milan created plentiful chances to comfortably secure the three points but indifferent form and confidence in the final third ensured Empoli walked away unscathed. The officiating crew including VAR denied the Rossoneri a stone-cold penalty by failing to spot a clear foul on Théo Hernandez on the edge of the penalty area. Post-game replays and images are clear, obvious and will do the league officiating crew no favours. The defence is returning to pre world cup form however the forward line is firing blanks at the worst possible time. 

milan v napoli - 12 april, 20.00 - 1-0

Pregame Expectation

The pressure is on the Rossoneri to take advantage of San Siro’s rip-roaring crowd. The outcome will squarely rely on which Milan will turnup, the away to Napoli or home to Empoli? Milan are expected to utilise the same starting line-up and tactical setup from the recent successful turnout away at Napoli. Sandro Tanali and a few others are flirting with suspension of the yellow card variety for the return fixture.

Postgame Evaluation

Milan started the contest slowly affording Napoli the opportunity to attack from the off. Thankfully the Rossoneri came to life and deservedly take a singular lead into the second leg. Mike Maignan is not from this world with multiple saves in both halves and crucially to deny Giovanni Di Lorenzo at the end. Hopefully the red and black will not look back on the missed opportunities to further solidify semi-final qualification.

bologna v milan - 15 april, 14:00 -1-1

Pregame Expectation

The frequency of the fixture list along with continental successes has to be respected therefore 10 line-up changes are expected (unprecedented under Stefano Pioli’s stewardship) for the visit to a rapidly improving and resourceful Bologna. The three points are imperative and the next men up really need to stand up to make it count on the field. A number of the rotation team are fighting for their Milan and or Serie A futures. The likes of Ante Rebić, Charles De Ketelaere and Divock Origi have to take advantage of the opportunity on hand to impress and secure the much-needed points.

Postgame Evaluation

The lack of composure in the final third continues in synergy with ridiculously poor usage of VAR. The video assistant referee experiences technical difficulties once the Rossoneri are in possession. Besides the obvious outrage, Milan should have won this game with ease and without the assistance of VAR. The next man up mantra is failing to stand-up on the field and select individuals are fast running out of opportunities to secure a future with the Rossoneri.

napoli v milan - 18 april, 20.00 - 1-1

Pregame Expectation

Autorete? Why antagonise the opposition’s personnel on a personal level? Why provide free motivation? Why cause a ruckus overnight outside the Milan’s team hotel? Napoli’s fans so called fun-and-games could drastically backfire because you can bet the Milanese players will be on a mission to silence the crowd and some. The Rossoneri are anticipated to announce an unchanged line-up baring any late unforeseen developments. Napoli are expecting Victor Osimhen to return to spearheading the attack in conjunction with the devastating Kvicha Kvaratskhelia.

Postgame Evaluation

A worldclass Messi like run from Rafael Leão to assist Olivier Giroud along with worldclass reflexes from Mike Maignan paved the way for a Derby della Madonnina fit for the ages and grace the continental arena along with Italian representation in the Champions League Final. Cometh the men, cometh the Leo and Maignan. The truly awful campaign on social media and overnight disruption outside the Milan hotel to destabilise the Rossoneri backfired for a small minority of Napoli fans as Milan deservedly progressed to the Champions League Semi Final.

milan v lecce - 23 april, 17:00 - 2-0

Pregame Expectation

Continental aspirations aside, Milan must take back control of Serie A beginning with three points at home against Lecce. Slight rotations are expected owing to a few minor injuries and suspension. Time and patience are on the cusp; Ante Rebic and Divock Origi are under fire and under pressure to find form and fortune in front of the goal and quickly. Current speaking the out-of-form duo will almost certainly be out of Milan in the near future. I’d prefer to have Lorenzo Colombo and Daniel Maldini on board for the present and for the future.

Postgame Evaluation

The struggles in the final third continue, confidence and composer are at an all-time low with regards to a few too many individuals operating in and around the final third. Fortunately, two well taken goals from Leão rescued a sluggish and goal shy Milan. A semblance of the Scudetto and most valuable player winning Rafael Leão is threatening to break through at the most pivotal point of the footballing season. Rafael Leão has stratospherically untapped ability and finding long-term consistency will ensure a legendary status amongst the Milanisti and Calcio in general.

roma v milan - 29 april, 17:00 - 1-1

Pregame Expectation

The looming finalisation of the disciplinary procedure for Juventus is providing a unique backdrop for the top four Serie A chasing pack. Three points are pure goldust thanks to the unwavering and undeniable spectacle at play. The teams in contention along with the old lady simply cannot afford to drop points. Juventus are anticipating a less severe outcome in comparison to the original 15 points deduction. For the time being the exact amount remains a mystery.

Milan will have to be on top form away to a Roma side whose own form is unpredictable from game to game and yet almost indestructible at the Olympic Stadium. Anything can and will happen when both teams need to win. The side who manages the occasion with discipline, composure and total commitment will come out on top. The gravity of the situation atop Serie A summit will ensure usage of best eleven personnel on the field and not on the side-lines.

Postgame Evaluation

Start stop affair, from a tepidly slow start to a frantic conclusion. The contest came to life deep in injury time. The stakes are sky-high, and the pressure is never-ending so why do Milan routinely wait for the last ten minutes of a match to up-the-ante and chase the win? Surely the coaching team and players alike can sense a need for a momentum and or tactical shift?

milan v cremonese - 03 may, 20:00 - 1-1

Pregame Expectation

Milan are under unsurmountable pressure to get back to winning form against a relegation threatened Cremonese at a packed-out Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. League table pressure is mounting and dropped points will induce insufferable experience for players and fandom alike. Light rotation is anticipated however going forward best eleven starting line-up should be deployed to secure victory and create a safety blanket from the chasing pack.

Postgame Evaluation

Embarrassing and unacceptable. Media and fandom noise alike can blame the management and coaching staff all day but simply put, the players are on the field and the players have to execute. The squad have to look at each other and bear some responsibility to inexcusably lacklustre performances on the field.

milan v Lazio - 06 may, 14:00 - 2-0

Pregame Expectation

Last chance saloon? Milan can be under no illusions with regards to the starting line-up and the three points. Continental aspirations should be on the backbone. Winning the Champions Leage is substantially more difficult in comparison to finishing top four in Serie A. The pressure will be totality on Rafael Leão, Olivier Giroud and Théo Hernandez to deliver the points against dangerous opposition who completely dismantled Milan at Stadio Olimpico. Lazio are on a mission to secure the runner-up spot in Serie A and therefore in no mood to take the foot of the gas peddle. 

Postgame Evaluation

Bravo, a reaction long in the making and without Rafael Leão. Milan totality dismantled Lazio akin to the reverse fixture in Rome. The inevitable quandary: where did this performance come from and where has this Milan been hiding post nineteenth Scudetto? Hopefully the injury to Rafael Leão in the 11th minute was more on the side of precaution and less on severity. Alexis Saelemaekers stepped-up and performed very well across defence and offense. 

milan v INTERNAZIONALE - DERBY DELLA MADONNINA - 10 may, 20:00 - 0-2

Pregame Expectation

The fourth Derby della Madonnina of the season and unquestionably the most improbable will once again grace the continental arena. Predictions are inevitable however by default, derby games can defy convention from formbook, rulebook to squad availability. Whomever manages the magnitudes of the occasion and ultimately the contest with discipline, execution and in-game adjustments across the field will make the last dance in Istanbul. Rafael Leão is not expected to feature from the start thanks to an untimely injury against Lazio with Alexis Saelemaekers the clear front runner to step-in for the electric Leão. This could be a close-knit affair over the two legs, or a contest fit for the ages.

Postgame Evaluation

Slow and tepid in the defensive phase and devoid and toothless in attack. Welcome to Milan minus the electrifying Rafael Leão. It is blatantly obvious opponents do not fear the Rossoneri with Leão off the field and therefore gameplan accordingly. Some opposition sit back with determination and others like Inter attack mercifully. The management will have to address the lack of firepower across the squad in the offseason. Both Inter goals were inexplicably born from individuals in the defensive phase mentally and physically falling asleep. Lautaro Martínez with another show of penalty-box clown-manship fit for dancing on ice. The referee made a clear and monumental mistake therefore had to make amends using VAR. Lautaro Martínez should have received a yellow card for his theatrics.

spezia v milan - 13 may, 17:00 - 2-0

Pregame Expectation

The fate of the top four in Serie A beckons. Milan has four games to secure continental qualification for next season. Mass rotation is anticipated across the board with changes in the back, middle and up-top in light of the looming conclusion of the Champions League semi-final. No more rationale or excuses for rotational personnel. The time is now for the next man to standup and step-up. Spezia will be a challenge purely on the basis this season and for reasons unknown, the Rossoneri has struggled mightily against less fancied and or subpar opposition.

Postgame Evaluation

Absolutely shambolic. The Milanisti at Stadio Alberto Picco should be financially compensated for witnessing an atomic performance a cosmic blackhole would reject. The game tape with identify individuals whom do not deserve to continue representing the Rossoneri. Milan are facing an uphill battle to qualify for next seasons edition of the Champions League. Three wins from the last three Serie A fixtures might not be enough, the red and black could need a helping hand or three. 

INTERNAZIONALE v milan - DERBY DELLA MADONNINA - 16 may, 20:00 -1-0

Pregame Expectation

A potential record fifth Derby della Madonnina of the season will conclude with Italian representation in this year’s Champions Legue Final. Inter are clear favourites thanks to a well-deserved two goal lead from the first leg. Milan, the designated away team are somehow alive in the tie and can punish the Nerazzurri’s for a boat load of missed opportunities to settle the tie in the first leg. Rafael Leão is expected to start along with Malik Thiaw and Junior Messias for the injured Ismaël Bennacer. Milanisti across the globe will be hoping a whirlwind Leão can ignite a famous turnaround of sunami proportions.

Postgame Evaluation

Four Derby della Madonnina defeats on the bounce with an alarming failure to find the back of the net. The lack of firepower and composure in the final third is the story of Milan’s season. (More Coming Soon).

milan v sampdoria - 20 may, 19:45 - 5-1

Pregame Expectation

Milan’s post scudetto winning yo-yo season hangs in the balance. Nothing short of three points is the minimum required to continue dreaming of a top four finish. The expectation is the first team personnel will be on the field for the do or die contest against an already relegated opponent with recent uptick in form. Slight rotation at centre back pairing is anticipated with Malick Thiaw and Simon Kjær. The onus will be squarely on Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud to fire the Rossoneri to continental qualification.

Postgame Evaluation

If you provide Olivier with opportunities, Giroud will inevitably score. Brahim Diaz’s timely (for some and untimely for others) showcase of his repertoire will automatically quantify fandom to dream about production plus consistency. An unshackled and unburdened Rafael Leão will conjure Rafael Leão like destruction and assimilation. The offseason will provide opportunity for the powers that be to figure out how to unleash this Milan on the regular. 

juventus v milan - 28 may, 19:45 - 0-1

Pregame Expectation

A singular point at Allianz Stadium will guarantee Champions League football for next season however Milan can and should aim for maximum points to realistically chase third position in Serie A. No changes are expected to the starting lineup from Sampdoria barring any late unforeseen circumstances. Juventini will be raucously baying for a reaction therefore the RossonerI have to be alert, aware and ready for a wounded opposition ripe for a spectacle of unpredictability. The prevailing fact: unfancied and out-of-form opposition have routinely undermined Milan’s campaign.  

Postgame Evaluation

A sublime Davide Calabria assist and world class finish from Olivier Gairoud guaranteed continental qualification and a top four finish for Milan. Football can be simple and simple can be beautiful. Ability is not the issue for Davide Calabria, hopefully he can combine fitness and form for the long-term. Malik Thiaw continues to grow and flourish with every minute on the field, and you’d assume further opportunities and responsibility will beckon next season.

milan v Hellas Verona - 04 june, 19:45 - 3-1

Pregame Expectation

Milan will be hoping for a standout sendoff for approximately twelve individuals not deemed to be part of the project. A packed-out venue may well witness Zlatan Ibrahimović’s last dance at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, unfortunately injury and lack of fitness has sapped the opportunity to participate on the field. A post-game presentation ceromony is anticipated. Contractually as things currently stand, Brahim Diaz could also be playing his last game for the red and black. Hellas Verona will be playing with the desire to upset the opposition and the Milanisti to secure another season in Serie A.

Postgame Evaluation

Spectacular, emotional and well deserving postgame sendoff for Zlatan Ibrahimović, who can be at peace with retirement from the football field and for leaving his beloved Milan in Rafael Leão’s capable hands. The beautiful game does not have to be about the entire 90 plus minutes, supremely gifted individuals like Rafael Leão can make it about singular moments within the minutes. It only takes a second or two to flip the tide of momentum or completely turn the game on its head.

END OF SEASON REVIEW

Evaluation

Continental success and self-inflicted hardship endured on the road to fourth position are lessons learned and invaluable experience for the future. Champions League qualification has saved the season for the most part however the coaching and playing staff need to improve, adapt and evolve to ensure long-term fruition. Tactically speaking Milan are overtly reliant on the brilliance of the individual over the collective along with inept in-game management and mind-bending repeat selection of underperforming individuals. Frustratingly when the chips are down in the midst of a contest, Milan repeatedly react too little too late. Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud are a demon core duo in the pack, Milan has to increase the skillset and squad depth to increasingly induce criticality on the field.

Champions Image – Copyright © A.C. Milan | acmilan.com

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